Burundi’s accession into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has received rare backing from the bloc’s major member, Tanzania.
The country’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said on Friday at the funeral of the late Burundian leader Pierre Nkurunziza that Tanzania would help Burundi achieve Nkurunziza’s quest to join SADC.
Burundi is a member of the East African Community (EAC), but following its bitter ongoing fight with Rwanda which started in 2015, it has been pulling away from the six member bloc. Tanzania is also EAC member.
In 2017, President Nkurunziza submitted entry application to SADC. However, at its summit in June last year, SADC leaders ruled the Burundi did not meet the admission criteria.
SADC chair, Namibian President Hage Geingob, said at the time that: “The SADC assessment mission was in Burundi, but recommended that it is not yet beneficial for Burundi to be admitted into SADC.”
President Geingob, speaking from Tanzania, said Burundi was still embroilled in what he called the unresolved democratic process in that country.
“We are also concerned about the counter-accusations between Burundi and Rwanda about interference in each other’s internal affairs,” the Namibian leader said.
Speaking yesterday while standing next to new Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye, Tanzania’s PM affirmed that Burundi, this time, had full backing of Tanzania.
Tanzania will stand with Burundi “until the ambition is achieved”, said PM Majaliwa.
SADC is an economic bloc comprising 16 member states, including the recently admitted Comoros, with only East African Community member state Tanzania in the South African bloc. Other powerful members are South Africa.
Being a SADC member, gives Bujumbura plenty of political, diplomatic and security protection. It will be essentially shielded against any foreign instigated aggression. It also opens Burundi up to the outside world after late leader Nkurunziza closed up the country following the 2015 failed coup.
Meanwhile, on Saturday morning, the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) issued a statement announcing that an attack from Burundi at 2am had been repulsed. The attacking group retreated back to Burundi.
Four of the attackers were killed, and three captured, said the RDF. Some RDF soldiers were injured.
The same Nyaruguru district was where the Rwandan FLN rebels operated since June 2018, until late last year. According to details provided by Rwanda, the FNL were trekking from DR Congo, and provided passage route by Burundi to attack Rwanda via the Nyungwe forest.
Also last year in August, Burundi said its 8 soldiers had been killed in a large scale attacked originating from Rwanda. The latter denies any involvement.
A few months ago, another incident happened on Lake Rweru, shared between the two countries.